Podcast – Unpacking Forgiveness

This week on the podcast we chat about the difficult concept of forgiveness. By definition forgiveness must include some degree of hurt and pain which often makes this topic difficult to grapple with. Joining us is Pastor Chris Brauns, pastor of the Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, IL and the author of the book Unpacking Forgiveness. Listen in as we discuss just forgiveness is and issues such as should we forgive those who are unrepentant?

This and That

The Legitimate Concerns of the Next Generation of Christians in My Denomination – KJV-Onlyism is a direct challenge to the Bible-centered nature of fundamentalism, because it makes void the Word of God by our tradition—by forcing people to read that Word in a language they don’t and can’t fully understand. It also treats the KJV as perfect and inspired, as an act of divine revelation. This is very serious. – Mark Ward

Is temptation sinful? – Temptation is not sinful when it comes at us from the outside. In the wilderness temptation, the enticement to sin came from Satan, not from Jesus. And that is why Jesus was able to be tempted and yet be without sin (Heb. 4:15). But when the enticement to sin emerges from our own sinful nature, that is an entirely different matter. In that case, the temptation itself is sinful. That is an experience that is unique to sinners and that Jesus himself never experienced. – Denny Burk

Can Your Soul Survive Facebook and Twitter? – The church requires a balance between individuality and community. When individuality becomes disconnected from community, one refuses to submit to one another or to serve one another. But the opposite is also true. If I find my identity in the community, or in the community’s perception of me, I am no longer free to serve the community. – Russell Moore

Podcast – Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible

The King James Version is a beloved translation of the Bible still used by many Christians despite the fact that it was originally updated over 400 years ago. Among these Christians are those who would label themselves King James Only meaning they believe the King James Version is the only valid translation of the Bible and that all major translations are at best inferior and at worst corrupt. It was with this in mind that Dr. Mark Ward wrote his latest book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Version. In this final segment with Dr. Ward, we talk specifically about his book and how to show respect to a translation clearly blessed by God and yet still be able to appreciation modern, more understandable translations.

This and That

Man, it has been awhile since I updated this blog!  I used to feature this list of links I found interesting as a weekly post, but for some weird reason I just stopped.  So, here I am picking it up once again…

3 Ways to Have a Good Argument – In his book, A Rulebook for Arguments, Anthony Weston put it this way: “If you can’t imagine how anyone could hold the view you are attacking, you probably just don’t understand it yet.” – Zach Woodyard

What the Church Can and Should Bring to the #MeToo Movement – In our age of moral outrage, it’s important to remember that that no one is more outraged over this evil than God. The church displays the heart of our defender God by assuming this bias toward broken women. We don’t show partiality as we mete out justice, but we do recognize the power structures in place that perpetuate injustice. In response, we choose to move toward the oppressed and vulnerable, creating safe spaces in which they can share their story and be heard, loved, and cared for. – Whitney Woollard

No, ‘Saul the Persecutor’ Did Not Become ‘Paul the Apostle’ – As God’s people we should endeavor to read God’s Word closely and be as faithful to it as possible, in every area. Application that appears to draw on Scripture but isn’t actually scriptural—even if it’s “useful” or “cool”—can easily undermine someone’s faith once they realize they’ve been misled all along. – Greg Lanier

Billy Graham, flawed social justice warrior, RIP – I will take on young Graham over a hundred would-be experts on Bahnsen who geek out over doctrinal minutiae while sitting on their hands. – Joel McDurmon

Book Review – The Gospel and Adoption

Title: The Gospel and Adoption (The Gospel for Life Series)
Author: Russell Moore and Andrews Walker (editors)
Publisher: B&H Books
Publishing Year: 2017
Pages: 128
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

It was many years ago at a Texas Roadhouse in Janesville, WI that my wife and I, at the urging of our pastor, began to serious consider adoption.  For years we had struggled through infertility and wasn’t quite sure why God was putting us through that. At that meeting we were urged to read the book Adopted for Life by Russell Moore.  That was the beginning of our journey that led to the adoption of our two children (and two more to come). We owe quite a bit to Dr. Moore’s book.

This book is much shorter than Adopted for Life but is jammed-packed with Biblical and practical considerations concerning adoption.  This book features bit-sized chapters from several authors, such as Russell Moore and Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, that focus on a foundational, Biblical philosophy on adoption and then backs up to give practical considerations for both individuals and churches as a whole.

One thing I especially find helpful about this book is its honesty.  The authors do not sugar-coat anything. Adoption is sometimes seen as romantic – a gracious couple willing to rescue a poor orphan who then will be forever grateful.  It is NEVER that simple. Every adoption involves tragedy, heartache and unknown amounts of baggage. It is difficult and often awkward. The church needs to protect its sheep and sometimes that means telling a family they may not be equipped or ready to adopt.  While the ought to look for ways to care for orphans, it is not God’s will for every couple to adopt or enter the foster care system. Yet, the blessings of adoption are worth the struggles and reflect the heart of gospel and God Himself.

Here are a few helpful quotes from the book:

“Adoption helps explain how people from across the globe and across history become the family of God.  Adoption is an expression of the sheer willpower of God to create a family unto Himself that he’s proud to call children. (John 1:12)” – page 1

“Physical adoption is a reflection of God’s work of spiritual adoption in the lives of His people.  It is a reflection of a people who are living out the supremacy of Christ in a fallen world.”- page 20

“Adoption in Scripture is not an adjective in the Scripture – it’s a past tense verb.  God doesn’t say to some Christians, “I love you, and you are Mine,” and then turn to others and say, “I’m glad you’re here, but you’re just not as special” – page 33

“Far more than a requirement, caring for orphans is first a response to God’s love.  Its not just a mandate, but a mirror of God’s character.” – page 65

There’s much more worth reading so I would urge you to pick up this book for yourself.  If you are considering adoption, know a family that has adopted or is in a church that focuses on adoption – this book will be a help and blessing to you.  In short, this is a great book that should be found on your bookshelf.

Purchase the book for yourself here.

Free E-Book Alert – The Greatest Fight: Spurgeon’s Urgent Message for Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists

“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. – 1 Corinthians 2:4

This book examines three things that are of utmost importance in this fight of faith. The first is our armory, which is the inspired Word of God. The second is our army, the church of the living God, which we must lead under our Lord’s command. The third is our strength, by which we wear the armor and use the sword.

The message in this book, when originally presented by Charles Spurgeon in his final address to his own Pastor’s College, was received rapturously and enthusiastically. It was almost immediately published and distributed around the world and in several languages. After Charles Spurgeon’s death in 1892, 34,000 copies were printed and distributed to pastors and leaders in England through Mrs. Spurgeon’s book fund. It is with great pleasure that we present this updated and very relevant book to the Lord’s army of today.

About the Author
Charles Haddon (C. H.) Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a British Baptist preacher. He started preaching at age 17 and quickly became famous. He is still known as the “Prince of Preachers” and frequently had more than 10,000 people present to hear him preach at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. His sermons were printed in newspapers, translated into many languages, and published in many books.”

Download the book here.

The Teacher Who Never Knew Her Impact

As we celebrate teacher appreciation week, the Parent Teacher Fellowship at my school has set aside today as a moment for students to stop and write a brief note of encouragement for their teacher.  So, in that vein, I’d like to write a quick note about a teacher who will never see this.

I don’t remember much about her.  She was tall with short grey hair.  It was my third-grade year and her final year as a teacher.  She was retiring.  This was her second act as she had already retired from life as a Catholic nun.  Her name was Mrs. Navarros.  Honestly, I doubt that is even how to spell her name.

As you have probably already guessed, she was one of those teachers.  I will never forget the day she took me aside after a long day of school.  That day was especially rough as I was getting picked on.  If I recall correctly, it was something about the clothes I was wearing.  Coming from a poor family and a frequently unemployed father, I never wore designer clothing or anything close to it. The cruel taunting hurt.  But, I cannot recall, for the life of me, anything those kids said.  But I will never forget what Navarros said…

She called me to her desk after all the other kids had left.  She pulled me close to her side as it was obvious I was sad.  She tried the best she could to encourage me.  At one point she took a newspaper from the top of her desk and held it up.  She said that one day, in a paper just like the one she was holding, she looks forward to reading about something great I would accomplish.  For the rest of the day I thought about all the things I could do to get into the paper someday.  Most of these ideas bordered on the outlandish as my third-grade imagination was quite large.

The years went on and I didn’t think much about that moment much at all.  Fast forward to 2007…  I had just announced my long-shot, third party run for Congress.  I was with a few friends picking up some supplies from the local grocery store when I saw it.  It seemed to be beaming with light.  It was the latest edition of the Boston Herald.  There it was, standing before me, a major newspaper with short story all about me and my campaign.  It even featured a small picture.  I picked it up and instead of thinking how this would affect the campaign, my mind immediately went back to third grade.  I wondered if she was alive to read this.  Probably not, I imagine but I would like to think she would have been proud.  That insignificant, poor little kid, picked on by his class, had done something worth-while with his life.  With a smile on my face, I simply said “thanks,” to the confusion of those around me…

The difficult thing about being a teacher is that no one remembers the academic lessons you teach.  I cannot recall one single lesson, Mrs. Navarros taught about math or history.  But, thanks to her and many other teachers, I know math and history.  Some of these things are so basic to me now, I have no idea where they came from as they just seem like things I’ve always known.  Who really remembers the day they learned that one plus one equals two or that we breathe oxygen from the air?  But, we learned these facts thanks to the daily routine of teachers who will never be fully appreciated for all their hard work.

No, I don’t remember any of these lessons, but there was one lesson Mrs. Navarros taught me that day – I mattered.  Fellow teachers, what you do matters.  Thank you for everything that you do, most of which goes unnoticed.  As a teacher now myself, I guarantee that Mrs. Navarros had no idea of the impact that one little conversation had on me.  She was just doing her job.  Just doing your job matters.  In a life filled with IEP meetings, lesson plans and disciplinary issues its those little things you don’t plan or even realize you are doing that will impact your students for the rest of their lives.  You don’t notice it and those students may not ever realize it.  But, remember, what you do matters.



Biblical Reflections on Adoption

Last week my pastor asked me to preach on the topic of adoption.  The subject being near and dear to my heart,  I jumped at the opportunity.  I promised some of you that I would post the recording once it was uploaded, but ironically because of some pending adoption issues, I was a little tardy in that regard.  But, a little late, here it is.

Also, here is a link to the PowerPoint I used – Biblical Reflections on Adoption.


Free E-Book Alert – Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson

The fine folks at Crossway are making this e-book a free download to those willing to fill out a short survey.  Here’s a description of the book:

Do you ever feel like your desire for God is waning? Are you numb to the routine of church? What does it mean to be truly awakened to the wonder of the gospel?

Jared Wilson contends that we must be regularly engaged and engaging others with the good news of the sacrificing, dying, rising, exalted person of Jesus Christ. Wilson reminds us of the death-proof, fail-proof King of kings who is before all things and in all things and holding all things together, and of the Spirit’s power to quicken our hearts and captivate our imaginations. The message of Gospel Wakefulness will make numbness the exception (rather than the norm) and reawaken us to the multifaceted brilliance of the gospel.

Take the survey here.


Together for the Gospel Notes, part 1

So a few weeks ago now I was privileged to attend the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, KY.  As I reflect back at the great messages I sat under, I thought I would open up my notebook and share a few gems with you.

Mark Dever

“Holiness is freedom; freedom from the terrible taskmaster of sin.”

“God’s righteousness if the moral core of His Character.”

“Evangelism is not selling the unsaved on benefits they already want.”

“The church is not so much about a growing number of people as it is a number of growing people.”

“Today’s sermons are preparing your people to pick tomorrow’s pastors.”

“We catechize our congregations by what we pray about.”

“Pray that the people who only pretend to believe in God get bored with it.”

“If you are not at odds with sin you are not at home with Jesus.” – John Piper

H.B. Charles

“Christianized worldliness does not make the world Christian.”

“The message of the Cross is Christ crucified.”

“The wisdom of God is found in the Word of God.”

“Man cannot think his way to God.”

David Platt

“Three Primary Offenses of the Church:  (1)  Eagerly anticipating future salvation while ignoring present sin, (2) indulging in worship while ignoring injustice and (3) carrying on their religion while refusing to repent.”

“Slavery is not a stain in history but a scar that is still healing.”


Listen to my special T4G podcasts here:

Together for the Gospel, Part 1

Together for the Gospel, Part 2 – The Interviews

Together for the Gospel, Part 3 – Preachers in a Car